Chavanel Wins Stage 3 of Paris-Nice, Takes Overall Lead
Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) has won Stage 3 of Paris-Nice.
Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) has won Stage 3 of Paris-Nice. The Frenchman took a seven-up sprint to win the rolling, 178-km ride from Orval to Vichy in 4:33:12. Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) took the runner-up spot, and his teammate Sebastian Langeveld finished third. Chavanel's victory has given him the overall lead.
Once again, the racing started early. After about 10 km, Stephane Auge (Cofidis), Maclej Bodnar (Liquigas), Jurgen Roelandts (Silence), Christophe Le Mevel (Francaise des Jeux), and Tom Veelers (Skil) escaped. The quintet ran up a seven-minute lead and breasted all three classified climbs ahead of the peloton.
With 50 km remaining, Rabobank began to animate the chase. Within a few km, 20 riders, including five Rabobankers, pulled away from the peloton. Crosswinds split the field into several groups, and Alberto Contador (Astana)was caught out. He joined the third group, which was 0:20 behind the Rabobank group.
Bodnar was dropped from the lead group. Attrition took its toll on the Rabobank group, and by the time that it absorbed the leading quartet, the lead group was down to 10 riders. They were Auge (Cofidis); Roelandts (Silence); Le Mevel (Francaise des Jeux); Veelers (Skil); Flecha, Juan Manuel Garate, and Langeveld (all from Rabobank); Chavanel and Kevin Seeldrayers (both from Quick Step); and Marcus Burghardt (Columbia). The lead group was 0:20 ahead of Contador's group, but the leaders eventually extended their advantage to 1:09.
With one km left, Langeveld attacked. Chavanel took his wheel, but their companions brought them back. Flecha made his move, and Chavanel covered it and came around for the win.
In the overall, Chavanel leads Garate by 0:33 and Flecha by 0:36. Stage 4, a rugged, 173.5-km ride from Vichy to Saint-Etienne, will feature six Category 3 climbs. The field might break up, and time gaps could produce a change of race leadership. Will Chavanel keep his yellow jersey? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!